Ludwig van Beethoven: A brilliant German composer in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.
Aristotle: A Greek philosopher and scientist who lived hundreds of years before Christ.
Charles Dickens: One of history’s greatest writers. Lived and worked during the Victorian Era.
What do these men have in common?
These men share a pastime with many others who were also considered masters of their craft. Men that went before them, and men that came after them (Steve Jobs, William Wordsworth, Soren Kierkegaard, and Gustav Mahler just to name a few).
This important pastime is the practice of walking.
A bit anticlimactic, I know. With names like that thrown about you probably expected something far more revolutionary. But although the act of walking seems very simple, almost plain, it can also be a very powerful tool when used wisely.
Let me explain.
Any time you see something in common between men, or women, that you respect, I would advise you to look further into whatever that “thing” is. I would bet that more often than not, this is not a coincidence. As is the case with the men mentioned above.
All of them understood the importance of getting up and moving. Some used it as a way to ponder deeper into their questions, others used it as a break from their work as a way to “clear their mind”. Though used differently, they all swore that walking was a major key to their success.
I’ve heard for a long time about the fact that influential people throughout history had a habit of walking. I once heard that Steve Jobs got up and took a walk around the block with his colleague while toting his chemotherapy bag on a rolling IV cart! That’s how strongly he believed in the benefit of the ol’ “walk and talk”.
I don’t know if you’ll ever catch me taking a stroll with a hospital gown on, but I have made a concerted effort to pay more attention to this habit that so many good gentlemen have shared. There is clearly something to it. Something I want to be a part of.
I have long been a strong opponent of walking, actually. That sounds ridiculous, I know. But I’ve been a runner practically all my life and the idea of walking has, quite honestly, always annoyed me. I find myself in malls just wanting to jog to the next store and saying, “it would just be SO much faster!”. It bothers me how long walking takes. Seems so silly even to write out.
With that said, however, I want to change that, and have done my best to begin to enjoy my walks when I have the opportunity to take them. I’m not necessarily talking about walking from one store to the next, but more like walking around my office building at work. Or taking a walk around my neighborhood. The more I pay attention to the “slowness” of it, the more I see its value.
There is value in practicing the act of moving without a specific destination, and at a leisurely pace.
When work gets stressful, I try and take the opportunity to just start walking. The way walking has been helpful for me has been in its ability to force me to think about something else…anything else…other than the issue at hand! I get so “honed” in to whatever is in front of me, that it can become overwhelming. It’s extremely helpful to take a walk and intentionally focus on the things around me that have absolutely nothing to do with that issue that was previously consuming my thoughts.
Eventually I’d like to get to a place where walking is something that offers creative space for me as well. Right now I use it more as a relief, and not so much as a tool to create. Not that it ever has to be that in order to be positive, but that’s just what I’d like to see it do. Hopefully one day I can get up and go for a walk and come back with 100 different ideas about how I can change the world. One day ;).
I was actually discussing with Mr. Rafal about this article and he shared a really good thought in an email that I figured was worth including so you could hear a bit of his perspective as well.
“A large value in taking a walk is realizing how small we are. I get so wrapped up in my “stuff” and the thought that every action I am taking could potentially have large consequences in my life; looking at my life through a microscope. Getting out for a stroll and some air reminds me of how big the world is, that while my decisions are important and I want to take them seriously, they are at the end of the day a simple drop in a very large bucket.
It also forces me to fix my mind on God and how amazing and beautiful He made this place, that He loves and cares for me, and will ultimately guide the ship of my life to its eventual harbor.”
Well said, as always, Mr. Rafal.
This article has no grand purpose or deep meaning. It has just been on my heart the last few months so I thought I’d share.
Try it for yourself if you get the chance. Next time you are taking a break from work, or school, or life, or whatever…instead of opening Facebook, go for a walk. I hope you find it to be life-giving, thought-provoking, and a positive outlet for whatever it is you need to work through.
Leave a comment below and let us know if you get the chance to do it, and tell us what you thought!
So go, gentlemen. Go and be men who seek to improve themselves in everything they do. Get up and walk. Move…figuratively and literally…towards a better version of yourself.